“Attacks have continued to go down. We’ve had a five-month period consistently of a level of attacks we’ve not seen since spring of 2005,” he said. “This past week was the fourth-lowest since October 2004.”He also has a nice reply (though he doesn't say it) to the Democrat talking points,
Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan C. Crocker will explain why they believe attacks have come down when they report to President Bush and Congress.
The general said he is encouraged by the statistics and what he sees around the country. “In fact, the level of attacks has come down in recent weeks below a level we thought might be the ‘irreducible minimum,’” he said.
“The key is to hang on to what you’ve got,” he said. “You cannot, in your eagerness to go after something new, start to play ‘Whack-a-mole’ again. You have to hang onto the areas you’ve cleared; you have to have that plan to do before you go.”To fold in to the theme, there is this from the WSJ,
Coalition forces are moving to Mosul and Ninevah, but Petraeus said he will not risk losing gains made in Baghdad, the belts around Baghdad and in Anbar province to do so.
“Al Qaeda is trying to come back in,” he said. “We can feel it and see it, and what we’re trying to do is rip out any roots before they can get deeply into the ground.”
....public perceptions of the current U.S. military effort there "have become significantly more positive over the past several months," says a recent report from the nonpartisan Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. It shows that almost half of Americans think the war effort is going well, and that the U.S. should keep its troops there, at least for the time being. Other polls echo the trend to varying degrees.And from the secular vs. religion front - very good news.
The results suggest that -- barring another reversal in conditions -- Democrats' ability to use the war as a political weapon could be somewhat curtailed, particularly when the general-election campaign begins.
“I hate Islam and all the clerics because they limit our freedom every day and their instruction became heavy over us,” said Sara, a high school student in Basra. “Most of the girls in my high school hate that Islamic people control the authority because they don’t deserve to be rulers.”Celebrate the first joys of the coming Spring.
Atheer, a 19-year-old from a poor, heavily Shiite neighborhood in southern Baghdad, said: “The religion men are liars. Young people don’t believe them. Guys my age are not interested in religion anymore.”
The shift in Iraq runs counter to trends of rising religious practice among young people across much of the Middle East, where religion has replaced nationalism as a unifying ideology.